「也許半個月後，我會收到你的 email；上面寫著 Allessio，我有個想法，我們可以….」這是我的義大利裔澳洲朋友，Allessio Cavallaro（ACMI 的製作人與策展人）在我們說 byebye 之前，讓我一直難以忘懷的一句話。從「外面」參觀一個地方是一件事，有機會私人地在一個「藝術品」裡面深入導覽是另外一件事情；在這樣的互動中，認識到一個人，並且成為朋友，這就是另外一個故事了。這幾天我只有在「在台北與墨爾本之間」（新加了圖喲:P）寫過隻字片語：我去了 ACMI 三次….但是每當我翻到我在飛機上寫、關於 Allessio 的筆記，我就會想起他說的話。
他在解釋為什麼他要特別邀請我重訪 ACMI，並且從裡面，而不是從外面注視著這個作品時，他的答案是：「那就是我在這裡的原因。」他並不想做一個了解澳洲當地數位藝術、並且驕傲自滿於這棟美麗而又帶有各種可能性的建築作品的製作人與藝術家。他已經熟練並且能夠掌握澳洲動態影像與數位藝術的脈動，這是毫無疑問的。原本在雪梨擔任 dLux media arts 的 director、策劃製作許多國際性、亞太區域性的 Video 與多媒體數位藝術展覽、研討會，並且在 RealTime: OnScreen擔任編輯多年，我的朋友 N 就是在被邀請撰稿的過程中，跟他有著虛擬的合作經驗，相知多年。
他想要跟不同領域、不同的朋友互動。當他知道我從台灣來，並且 present 的內容是 open source networking 在文化領域裡面的實作經驗時，我們所形成的 hybrid workspace 就可能是一個新媒體後台技術與前台的視覺創作的對話。他所期待的是一種動態的撞擊，一種能夠與既有在地的人與作品、有所對話與互動的文化事件，這是他製作與策劃的 ACMI。不是只有很棒的空間（那交給建築師就夠了）、不是只有好的放映（那交給影展製作公司就夠了）、不是只有好的講座與工作坊（那讓在地的教授、老師塞滿滿就夠了）；而是一個人的空間，互動的、撞擊的文化空間。「那是我們為什麼在這裡對話的原因。」
Written by ilya on the airplane, Dec 9 18:04
[check the document provided by Allesio and find out anything new, or need to correct, invite ip to correct this terribly written (english) travelogue]
well, the ACMI senior curator Allesio is very eager to introduce me the details of ACMI. Just like a private tour for this *special* center of moving images all over the world.
He first introduce the screening room: a smaller one which can contain 150 people, and the bigger one, which we had a wonderful experience of “Russian Ark" film screening last night, that can contain 450 people. What makes me feel the most amazing is the resizeable screen, which acts like salute to TV industries and era about it’s square shape. Before the beginning of the screening of “Russian Ark", it showed the topic of this series screening: “digital art", something like that. It was in square shape, then while the movie begins, the screen changes its shape into rectangular. When I came into the screening room again of the extented version of the “Lion King", it grows from the rectange screen bigger and grow almost into a big square.
Then it is also interesting is the production room. Even through it’s pity for them for more space to exhibit amazing art works, that space is planned to be used on invitation of international artist to reside in ACMI and collaboration with local digital new media artist. The space is currently having a special installation: *dancing* (?). At first glance I thought it was a light-sensing environment, the images projected will change while the environment changes. The image was a young female dancer, reluctantly standing as the real person size, boringly looking at you from the screen. But after Allesio’s explaination, I found I was totally wrong 😛 It was not a light-sensing device/environment, but an interactive errected bed let people throwing themselves on and create an direction point, to order the dancer on the screen on her context to perform corresponding action. Allesio said, there’d been a lot of people spent time throwing themselves to relax their bodies in such an interesting “game".
I have no time to throw myself, so I only use my hip to hit the “bed" input device. Then the dancer look back, with her hip was hit shown on the screen. Other “inputs" cause her to start series actions, including jumping high and turnover in the air. What a spectacle! I think that game is psychologically an external “feedback" machine, which make the character in the screen acting like a personal coach to “invite" you acts. That was really funny, and I think the authors creating such system is quite excelling, cause all the factors of such system seems quite mature. It’s a very pleasant experience to put youself in that *installation*.
After the dance installation, we move on to other parts of ACMI. Outside of the planned production room, there’s a locked place that we cannot get in. Only through its glass wall/transparency window that I see the control room. Allesio said it is a meeting room which can hold events like webcasting and teleconference. If we connected from Taiwan to Australia, that would be held in such space. The stairs currently shown can be pulled back to hide into the wall, in order to contain more participants inside that space. It’s so versatile to dynamically allocate the space like that, but Allesio mentioned that it is just one of the examples about whole building’s functionality.
While passing by the image wall, there’s program info flowing. I saw the word “memory grid". I ask him what is “memory grid"? I am interesting in the word “grid", cause I know “grid computing" in supercomputing and bioinformatics context, but having no idea of what that would be in such digital new media environment. Then Allesio showed me a glasswall. “Notice that, and follow me in the pathway." We go through the pathway and get into another room that behinds the glasswall. It’s a room with empty space.
“The space is the workshop room," he said. It is a place for new media art students and teachers to hold workshop here. The ACMI would provide edit and post-production computers, and people can setup computer networks in this room. They encourage colleagues and universities students to use such space, cause ACMI has many resource investing on universities and have a lot of plans and projects to collaborate with colleges. When they held workshops here, the best student’s art work would be presented outside on the glass wall, and would be promoted on the ACMI’s regular programs.
ACMI is just opening for 6 weeks, and it would take another several months for all the installation of machines, hardwares and facilities to finish. For instance, the wireless broadband network. I take my notebook and ask him if there’s any wireless design inside suce beautiful, open space (besides the screening, all the spaces in ACMI is free for all melbourne citizens). He is explaining about this huge complicated work of creating such space is still working on. We see the private VIP presentation room, it’s about 20 people in its capacity, and still under installation. The room is for internal presentation for the funding authorities to understand the ACMI project, and after that, there’re a special corridor for participants to have cocktails there. Besides that, the room will also be used by program curators for premiere and discuss about the works.
And there’s real meeting room, which the marketing team is just having their discussion. We go back and enter another room, which is left for executive boards to have their regular meeting. A lot of expansive chairs are put in the room, waiting to be moved to its proper place. Just like other versatile space in ACMI, the room is connected with the previous one in essence. At any time in different context, the wall can be fold back inside and a bigger meeting space is then appeared.
There are approximately 130 people working at ACMI now. All the staffs are working in 3 places, like law, IT and accounting department is residing in another building accross the street. The library department is located elsewhere which might take taxi in 15 mins. The library part is owning and distributing a lot of property of film to universities for research purpose. Besides the events happening inside the ACMI main building, there’re a lot of activities going on.
It take 12 years from ground zero to the ACMI standing errected now. They get supported from the previous premier of Australia, and local Victoria State governement. The building is sponsered by federal governemnt, and the Victoria State government is taking 3 millions for their operation fee. The construction initiated 6 years ago.
I ask Allesio why this place is called federation square? He said, all the buildings nearby, including ACMI and National Gallary of Victoria(?) is only having the property of building. The land is owned by Federation Square, which is controled by a committee composite of Victoria State Assembly(?). They named it “Federation Square" is for the 2001 celebration of the 200 years of Australia federation. The ACMI was supposed to be open then, but the huge work is so complicated, it last till 6 weeks ago (before the election :P) and still undergoing details construction.
The ACMI is expecting to have more collaboration with other places in the world. That’s why Allesio invited me to have such tour deeply understanding more about ACMI. Besides the ordinary right now available cooperation such as invite the Taiwanese film and digital art works to show on ACMI, he wants to know more about other possiblities, such as how Internet had change the way digital cultural worker to create their work, especially in places like Taiwan. Allesio is expecting to bring back the information of what’s happening in the field of digital new media art for Australian artist, maybe to create some kind of dialogues to happen in Australia sky. That’s why he needs to talk with people, to bring more people to understand ACMI, and expecting for new idea and practices that would happen afterhand.
Allesio [check Allesio’s CV] was working on an online new media magazine called “Realtime". Working as editor and curator for a long period of time, he comes to ACMI for there’s many new posibilites that might happen. Such as the huge resizable screen, it supposed to be very special and scarce even worldwide. I am glad to have chance to understand such a wonderful idea about a center focusing on all kinds of moving images, and to witness it realization.